We began by congratulating member Shirley Bell on her forthcoming Diamond Wedding, a very special anniversary enjoyed by few.
Then John Sadler, historian, author and re-enactor, took the floor.
He talked about the Border Reivers, who dominated the English/Scottish border for 300 years.
His detailed account began in 1296 and sped through the reigns of the kings of Scotland and their English counterparts as they battled for land, supremacy and honour.
Border names from both sides were brought to life — Robsons, Elliots, Maxwells, Forsters, Grahams, and of course, the notorious Armstrongs, of whom it was said could put 3,000 men in the saddle within one hour of the alarm being raised.
These raiders were not romantic heroes, but rough, tough, lawless, brutal men who fought a guerrilla war and could maintain a blood feud for generations, simply because they had nothing better to do — the Mafioso of Northumberland.
We learned that modern language usage emanates from their deeds, for example bereavement and blackmail.
Such was their reputation that after the Battle of Flodden the Bishop of Durham remarked that the Border Reivers had been far more trouble than the Scots.
After 1603 the border ceased to exist as England and Scotland shared the same monarch, and by 1610 the Border Reivers had passed into history; although their names live on as many of us can testify.
This whistle-stop tour of Border history held all present in it’s fascinating grip, as did Mr Sadler’s truly amazing memory for dates and events.
Our next meeting takes place on Tuesday, February 9, at 7.30pm, in Hepscott Village Hall.
It promises to be just as interesting when ex-Royal bodyguard Roger Barrell takes centre stage to talk about his experiences. All guests will be very welcome.
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